Saturday, February 13, 2016

No Greater Love - The Story of St. Valentine

"Searching for the perfect Valentine's Day gift for a loved one? Whether it be your spouse, a friend or your children, you need look no further than this inspiring and heartwarming story about the saint whose self-sacrificing love and message of giving has come down through nearly 17 centuries and remembered every February 14th – Saint Valentine himself.

How this obscure Roman priest and martyr, who neither courted nor married, became the patron saint of lovers has led to many stories and legends about him. Yet this well-researched and magnificently produced play portrays Saint Valentine as he surely must have been – a humble, kind and selfless follower of Christ whose charity always sought out those who needed it most. Young and old alike will be both entertained and edified by this heroic story. Indeed a gift worth giving!"

Regina Martyrum Productions just released the story of St. Valentine - No Greater Love! I'm hoping to download it tonight so we can listen to it during our drive to Mass in the morning. 

Right now you can buy his story plus one other of your choice for only $20 using coupon code "VALENTINE" at checkout!

I hope you all have a very happy St. Valentine's Day! 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Marvel's Avengers :: Thor Birthday Party

Yesterday we celebrated Ranger's 14th birthday! FOURTEEN!!! Didn't he just turn seven?!? They are sure growing up fast, but I am really enjoying this new season of family life with teens. Our older boys are turning into such amazing young men!

The birthday boy didn't have any special requests this year so we actually weren't going to do a theme, maybe just take him somewhere special, but I changed my mind at the last minute and decided to "Assemble" an Avenger's themed party, focusing on Thor, inspired by his graham cracker creation this past New Year's Eve!

Saturday was packed with hockey games, practice, and lessons from 8am-3pm then my husband and I attended a dinner/fundraiser for our parish's home for homeless pregnant and parenting teens from 5pm-10:30pm, but we were able to stop at the store for some supplies before driving home. Surprisingly it all came together and ended up being a perfect theme for our teen!

.: pop•tarts :.

I asked our oldest son if he had any suggestions for Thor... He replied, "Ummmm, Pop-Tarts?"  Great idea! We don't usually buy Pop-Tarts (when I buy toaster pastries I opt for the Nature's Path or Trader Joe's brands) but we went with official Pop-Tarts for the birthday boy.  Sean picked out the S'mores flavor and it was a hit.  The birthday boy found the box on the kitchen counter in the morning along with a quote from the movie. Even though the "entire box" was for him, he still shared some of them with his siblings!

.: "This Drink... I like it!" :. 


After Mass we came home and I got started baking the cake and pulling together some other fun treats for the day while the older boys played Marvel Super Heroes on the Wii.  Just before dinner Sean drove him back to town for his free birthday coffee. Thor really liked coffee, right? ;) 

.: Avengers Popcorn Bar :. 

I decided to put together a snack and popcorn bar for our movie night, incorporating popcorn add-ins for each of the various Avengers!

I made up some food labels on the computer while the cake was baking and Chiquita drew some images to add as well!  (She also printed and colored the birthday card pictured on the table next to his cake!) 

Avengers Popcorn Add-Ins:

Thor's Hammer: Silver Marshmallows with Pretzel Sticks (or just use marshmallows for hammerheads) 
Black Widow Bites: Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Flavor
Nick Fury's Eye Patch: York Minis
Iron Man's Arc Reactors: Twizzler Mixed Berry Bites (I was trying to avoid food coloring as much as possible, but couldn't get to the health food store late Saturday night for Raspberry Chews...)
Hawk Eye's Bow and Arrows: Flipz Milk Chocolate Covered Pretzels
Captain America's Shield: Little Secret's Milk Chocolates with Mini Marshmallows (Not cheap, but they make my daughter, who is allergic to Red40, very happy!)

And just for fun: Avenger's Cheeze-Its

.: Avengers Assemble Pizza Party :.

A google image search provides tons of inspiration for Avengers themed party foods! I decided, for our teen's birthday, to go with pizza.

I picked up six frozen cheese pizzas, a package of pepperoni, and some veggies Saturday night and they came together quick and easy on Sunday afternoon! The birthday boy was so surprised when he arrived home from getting his coffee to see them all assembled. I did have some help!

Avengers Logo Pizza: Pepperoni, sliced into strips and arranged on pizza

Captain America's Shield Pizza: Pepperoni and Star Shaped Slice of Cheese

Thor's Hammer Pizza: Red & Yellow Frozen Peppers and three slices of Turkey Lunch Meat (Canadian Bacon would have probably worked better, but we had this in the fridge and the kids loved it!) 

Incredible Hulk Pizza: Lots of Green Veggies (we used broccoli, green pepper, green onions, asparagus, and sliced brussels sprouts) 

Black Widow Pizza: Sliced Black Olives and a slice from the end of a vine ripened tomato

Iron Man Pizza: Pepperoni, extra cheddar cheese, two slices of mushrooms

.: Thor's Hammer Birthday Cake :. 

“Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”

The cake wasn't as easy to make as I thought it would be. The cake itself was fine, but that hammer... I should have just had Ranger make me another one out of graham crackers! 

I was going to grab some "Java Thunder" ice cream, since Thor (that hammer-wielding god associated with thunder) liked coffee so much, but the store was out so we went with "Chocolate Brownie Thunder" instead.

Rose practiced playing "Happy Birthday" on her harp all last week in preparation for her big brothers birthday, and he got all those candles out in just one try. 

.: Birthday Gifts :. 

Homemade cards and book markers from his siblings, a card/gift from Sean's parents, a gift certificate for an hour long golf lesson from my parents, a new track jacket (Costco has a great deal on these - Captain has the Dark Gray and we got Ranger the Gray), the complete trilogy of The Hobbit (Extended Edition), and lots of LEGO... He was pretty excited!

I had purchased The Louvre last Thanksgiving during a Barnes & Noble sale and ended up not needing it for Christmas. Ranger loves the Architecture series and this will be another great addition to his collection.

For nearly a year I have been searching for an inexpensive replacement set of The Battle of Helm's Deep. It has always been one of his favorite LEGO sets but he used it as the base of the cathedral he is building, not thinking that it was going to turn into such an extensive project and that he may not want to take the cathedral apart, at least not for quite some time. I finally found a set of just the bricks (no mini-figures, etc) for a great price on ebay. Hopefully they are all there... I guess we'll see!  (I love Captain's smile in this picture... He had helped me search for this particular gift. He did not, however, have any clue about the next gift!) 

Ranger's last gift was an even bigger surprise. It was another amazing deal I found last year, this one from Amazon, for a "like new but damaged box" LEGO Tower of Orthanac! He now has plenty of bricks to keep him busy for a long time at least another week or so... maybe a little longer due to the boy's full high school and hockey schedule! Now if I could just find a great deal on some gray roof tiles for that cathedral.... ;)

Happy 14th Birthday! 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sponsor Love :: Quarterly Update & Current Specials {scroll to the bottom for a little giveaway!}

It's time for another quarterly update on my sponsors here at Shower of Roses!  I generally try to post these on the first of the month, at the beginning of each quarter, but I've been struggling to keep up now that I am working part-time outside of the home on top of home educating and our crazy (but fun!) hockey schedule. Life is FULL at the moment! :)

I have a few new and returning sponsors this quarter including Lent at Ephesus (De Montfort Music), Peanut Butter & Grace, and Keepsakes by Carrie, in addition to many continuing sponsors. Read below for updates and specials from all these great businesses and be sure to keep them in mind while looking for inspiring resources for Lent and beautiful, faith filled gifts for Easter.

Please welcome my new sponsors:

"This compilation of poignant chants, intricate harmonies and rousing hymns of glory and redemption includes: O Sacred Head Surrounded, made famous by Bachs oratorios, All Glory Laud and Honor, the well known Adoramus Te Christe and the entrancing Improperia from the liturgy of Good Friday. Three original pieces are also featured among the generous 23 tracks. Let the vibrant purity of their monastic sound peacefully escort you through the penitential season of Lent."

In addition to Lent at Ephesus, our family loves the rest of the CDs in the series as well which include Easter at Ephesus, Advent at Ephesus, and Angles and Saints at Ephesus.

Special Offer: Right now Amazon is offering unlimited streaming of this album with your Prime Membership.

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"The mission of Peanut Butter & Grace is to help Catholic parents raise children who know and love Christ and his Church. We do this by providing digital and print resources that assist parents in forming their children in the faith within the daily life of their family. All of our products are made for Catholic parents—either to use themselves (think of 77 Ways to Pray with Your Kids), or to hand to their kids (think of the Illuminated Rosary prayer books).

Our primary audience is “middle pew Catholics”—parents who attend Mass regularly and want to do more to integrate the faith into their family life, but don’t know where to begin. They might even say, “I can’t teach my children about the faith because I don’t know how.” These parents are probably both working to support their family, living the crazy-busy lifestyle of the typical working- and middle-class American family."

From Instagram: "I will sing always, even if my roses must be gathered from amid thorns; and the longer and sharper the thorns, the sweeter shall be my song." ~ excerpt from Little Lessons from St. Thérèse of Lisieux
This sweet book is available directly from Peanut Butter & Grace or Amazon

I have really been enjoying looking through some of the books published by Peanut Butter & Grace, especially those in honor of St. Therese, and will be hosting a giveaway soon! 

Read more about Peanut Butter & Grace here, like them on Facebook, and subscribe to The Bread (their weekly printable family faith formation planner) here

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Visit Keepsakes by Carrie for personalized prayer cards including Baptism, First Holy Communion, Engagement with an engagement prayer for the bride and groom, Holy Matrimony, Remembrance for deaths and miscarriages, Enthronement Keepsakes, Birth Announcements, Name day cards, and more!

Right now Carrie is offering a FREE FIRST COMMUNION BOOKMARK to the first 10 customers who purchase 3 or more sheets (24 cards) of ANY design First Holy Communion prayer cards! Starts 2/1/16.

A special thank you to all my continuing sponsors! 

Prayer Pillowcases

Prayer Pillowcases are more than just a pretty place to lay your head! They're a unique way to bring Catholic art and prayer into your home. And a practical way to share the Faith with your family and friends. Our distinctive line combines original art and favorite Catholic prayers that appeal to all ages and transform pillows from the ordinary to the divine! Honor a special occasion or make any occasion special with the gift of a joyful, lasting (and personalizable) Prayer Pillowcase. We're always working on new designs and hope you'll visit again soon to see even more ways to help your loved ones begin and each day with a prayerful heart.

Prayer Pillowcases will soon be offering three new pillowcases - they just need to add the prayers and Saints Peter, Anthony and Philomena will be ready to join their pretty, practical Prayer Pillowcases!

Prayer Pillowcases make excellent gifts for inside Easter Baskets... I already have a couple stashed away for next month!

Shipping is always free at Prayer Pillowcases

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Catholic Child

Catholic Child offers so many beautiful resources for lent including the Stations of the Cross Grotto Craft Kit (You can see us crafting ours here and our completed grottos here!), a Last Supper Puzzle (We put a similar one together back in 2011!), and many great gift ideas for Easter Baskets, First Holy Communions, and more.

Catholic Child is currently celebrating 20 YEARS with weekly giveaways each Wednesday over at Facebook

Crafting our Stations of the Cross - kit from Illuminated Ink (also available at Amazon and from Catholic Child!)
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Culture of Life Studies 

Culture of Life Studies has been releasing some great materials to help parents and teachers introduce the Culture of Life to our children. Last month we enjoyed the Ladybug Warriors mini-lesson while praying for the unborn. (Free download can be found here.)

Coming Soon - Defend Life

Defend Life shows junior high school students what it really means to be pro-life. Students spend four weeks examining such diverse pro-life topics as the development of preborn babies, marriage and family, threats to human life, how to argue the pro-life position, and how to spread a culture of life to their peers and their communities. Focusing on human development and the gift of the family, Defend Life stresses the importance of knowing the scientific aspects of preborn development and brings students to a closer understanding of the sacredness of human life from creation to death. Students develop critical thinking and speaking skills through fun activities such as a pro-life gameshow, pro-life apologetics, and activities which help them take what they have learned in the classroom out into the world.

Culture of Life Studies will be giving away a free lesson from our 7th-8th grade study Defend Life (scheduled to be released in April) to anyone who signs up to receive their monthly e-mail newsletter.  

Euthanasia: An Introduction examines the complex topic of euthanasia by peeling back the layers of rhetoric to let students see what is really at the heart of end-of-life issues. Using Church documents, this supplement provides students with a basic understanding of the Catholic Church’s teachings on euthanasia and gives students the tools they need for defending those teachings against cultural attitudes and pro-euthanasia arguments. Through the use of discussion questions, essays, and small group work, students gain an understanding of the topic and learn how to articulate their belief in the respect for the dying. The one-class session supplement concludes with a case-study discussion which contrasts Brittany Maynard, Lauren Hill, and Terri Schiavo—three women who suffered terribly at the end of their lives.

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Jesse Tree Treasures
"Our shop provides families ornaments and tools to share the traditions of the different seasons of the church year, like the Jesse Tree, O Antiphons, Advent, Lent, Easter and other aspects inspired by Jesus. We create ornaments that would help others share their faith with their children and last for years to come."

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Gail Giron Designs
Gail makes such beautiful rosaries and faith-inspired jewelry, including these beautiful St. Therese Rose Earrings which I recently ordered for myself. So pretty!

Right now you can SAVE 15% with Coupon Code Heart16

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Behold Publications, LLC
"Behold Publications, LLC is more than just a publisher! Family owned and operated since its founding in 1999, we have developed great Catholic clubs like the Little Flowers Girls' Club and Blue Knights Catholic Boys' Clubs for Catholic girls and boys ages 5 and up. What makes these clubs unique is that they are at their core faithfully Catholic. We don't "tack on" Catholic identity as other clubs might, but begin and end with a Catholic world view. We also believe that local clubs best operate the way they see fit, so there is no national organization, policies, registration or dues. Groups can easily adjust the program to fit their local needs. Behold Publications also produce a line of historical fiction based on American history and American saints for ages 7-15."

Check out the new website, blog and the Year of Mercy Badge contest for a chance to win prizes and free badges! 

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Audrey Eclectic
"A unique collection of American folk art created in the heart of the Oklahoma prairie. My inspiration comes from literary classics, spooky tales from the past, the pioneering spirit, my home town, Scandinavia and other lands far away." 

You can also follow Audrey Eclectic on Facebook and Instagram for updates!

Check out the newest addition to her shop: St. Elizabeth of Hungary! She is one of my confirmation saints and I'm really excited to add the original painting to our collection!

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Regina Martyrum Productions
"Regina Martyrum Productions produces the finest works of Catholic audio theatre. With emphasis on the lives of the Saints, these products are edifying, and entertaining." 

Subscribe for emails or follow over at Facebook for sales and updates.

Be sure to watch for their next story release: "No Greater Love - St. Valentine" just in time for his feast on February 14th!

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Authentically Catholic...Naturally Beautiful

I'm in love with all the toys from the creative family over at Naturally Catholic and so are our children! The "My Family" we gave them as an O Antiphon gift this past Christmas.  They were all SO excited when they discovered their individual dolls! 

Our "My Family" was based on the picture we took at Grand Teton National Park last 4th of July. 

Note: They aren't pictured above, but Naturally Catholic also included little ones with halos for our babies in heaven! ♥

In addition to the Naturally Catholic Etsy Shop you can also find updates on the Naturally Catholic Facebook page

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Offering Catholic books, gifts, homeschool curriculum at discount prices!

Follow Sacred Heart Book & Gifts on Facebook for updates and coupon codes! 

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Robin Nest Lane

Are you looking for a new veil? Robin creates such lovely veils for ladies, girls, and even dolls!

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Almond Rod Toys

Almond Rod Toys makes Saint Blocks that are just the right size for little hands and can be used for imaginative play, building, stacking or collecting. The front has a print of original watercolor artwork. The back has a quote or a prayer chosen to inspire little ones and the one that cleans up behind them. The saint's name, feast day and patronage are also listed; just enough to be a reminder and an inspiration for further learning. 


The Wooden Catholic Mass Kit from Almond Rod Toys has been perfect for our toddler. He received it on Christmas morning and absolutely loves it! 

We also really love all the Blessing Blocks from Almond Rod Toys including the Easter Blessing Blocks which you can see pictured in last year's Lenten Dinner on Palm Sunday and Good Friday Lenten Dinner {on Holy Saturday}.

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Jacob's Toy Box and Books

In addition to the original Monk, Priest, Nun, and Child of God Rag Dolls,  Christine has expanded to add Saint Rag Dolls and Kid Priest Vestments as well!

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Art Angel jewelry designs are born of a love for art and faith. Owner and designer Raphael Fitzgerald holds an M.A. in Art History and specializes in vintage holy card jewelry.

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I have a few giveaways planned this quarter including picture books from Peanut Butter & Grace, a set of CDs from De Montfort Music, and my annual Baskets of Books for Easter giveaway

In the meantime, leave a comment on this post (by tomorrow night, Sunday, February 7, 2016) and one visitor/commenter will be randomly chosen to receive a little St. Valentine's gift package from me including a copy of the Saint Valentine picture book.  

Giveaway Update: {Random Number Generator: Comment #3 of 49} 
Congratulations Jennifer! 

Please send me your address and I will mail you your gift this week.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all of my sponsors and visitors for your support! May God bless you all!